Behind the Badge: Knoxville police bike patrol prepares for USA Cycling

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – As this weekend’s USA Cycling National Championships draw closer, know that those on the course won’t be the only ones on bikes.

Spending the day on two wheels rather than for can be harder than it looks for the members of the Knoxville Police Department Neighborhood Bike Patrol.

“We have a little more than 100 miles of greenway, I think 80-some parks, and the off-road, 60 miles or more,” said Officer Steve Kauffman.

“We get out and check as many as we can for any kind of issues, whether it’s vandalism or faulty equipment or excessive filter, or anything like that,” said Officer Tommy Turner.

One thing is for certain. KPD’s bike patrols can be seen all over, whether at a festival like last weekend’s PrideFest monitoring the crowds or patrolling the city’s greenways. Their presence gives residents the comfort of knowing someone is out there keeping an eye on things, especially if it’s areas where patrol cars are not an option.

“It’s nice to get the community feedback that we do about how many people appreciate us out there,” said Turner.

“This allows me to get up close to the folks and be more approachable. I don’t have the barrier of that car door,” said Kauffman.

Along with the patrolling, part of this crew’s focus is preparing for what could be, whether it’s an emergency situation or trail erosion. It means getting to know every inch of the paths, trails and greenways within the city limits.

“Actually, I’ve been working on the last couple months, mapping out all the South Knoxville trails with a GPS unit,” said Turner. “We tag the trails whether or not they’re mountain bike or walking only. Can you get a four-wheeler down them or can you drive a truck down them”

“That’s what we do, 10 hours a day, four days a week. We need to know where all the trails are so if issues do pop up, we can let Parks and Rec know that there is an issue here,” said Kauffman.

KPD”s Bike Patrol recently took part in a six-month study with the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration on whether driers are adhering to the three-foot rule when it comes to sharing the roads with cyclists.

The officers say the majority of drivers were in compliance, but they issued six citations. There’s no word on when the study will be published.

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